Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Global Health: Time to Pay Attention to Chronic Diseases

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From the 1 Ju;ly 2014 blog post

…While infectious diseases remain a significant problem in the developing world, cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases are now among the fastest growing causes of death and disability around the globe. In fact, nearly three-quarters of the 38 million people who died of chronic diseases in 2012 lived in low- or middle-income countries [1].

The good news is that many NCDs can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as reducing salt intake for hypertension, stopping smoking for cancer and heart disease, or venting cookstove fumes for lung disease. Other NCDs can be averted or controlled by taking medications, such as statins for high cholesterol or metformin for diabetes.

 

July 2, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mediterranean Diet and Diabetes Prevention?

Janice Flahiff:

Does the Mediterranean Diet reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2?
A new study published in theAnnals of Internal Medicinesuggests that it might. The Mediterranean Diet has been extensively studied for its health benefits which include reducing heart disease, cancer, dementia,  hypertension and stroke risks.

Researchers studied 3,541 men and women without diabetes who ranged in age from 55 – 80 years old.  They were however, at a high risk for heart disease.  All participants were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet with 50 ml of extra – virgin olive oil (EVOO), a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams of mixed nuts, or a low-fat diet each day. Those consuming the Mediterranean diets were counseled by dietitians.  All participants were not told to reduce their calories or to increase exercise.

After 4 years of follow-up, it was determined that 273 of the patients had developed diabetes type 2.  Of these, 101 were  from the low-fat group; 80 were from the Mediterranean diet with extra EVOO and 92 were from the Mediterranean diet with extra nuts.  There were only slight changes in body weight, waist circumference, and physical activity between the groups.

The authors concluded: Following a Mediterranean diet is “palatable and sustainable”, therefore it could have public health implications for the prevention of diabetes.

There is no one particular Mediterranean diet, but can include diets that emphasize increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, beans and fish while decreasing consumption of red meats, processed meats, butter and sweets.  A previous post of mine graphically shows how to eat a more Mediterranean-type diet.  Enjoy!!

 

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Originally posted on FOOD, FACTS and FADS:

Large olive tree - Portugal

Large olive tree – Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does the Mediterranean Diet reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2?
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that it might. The Mediterranean Diet has been extensively studied for its health benefits which include reducing heart disease, cancer, dementia,  hypertension and stroke risks.

Researchers studied 3,541 men and women without diabetes who ranged in age from 55 – 80 years old.  They were however, at a high risk for heart disease.  All participants were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet with 50 ml of extra – virgin olive oil (EVOO), a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams of mixed nuts, or a low-fat diet each day. Those consuming the Mediterranean diets were counseled by dietitians.  All participants were not told to reduce their calories or to increase exercise.

After 4 years of follow-up, it was determined that 273…

View original 122 more words

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Recipes for folks with diabetes which are also good for us all!

Folks with diabetes are advised to plan ahead and ..

  • Limiting foods that are high in sugar
  • Eat smaller portions, spread out over the day
  • Be careful about when and how many carbohydrates you eat
  • Eat a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day
  • Eat less fat
  • Limit  use of alcohol
  • Use less salt

Sensible advice for just about everybody.
Also, a healthy diet and a health diet can prevent diabetes from developing.

Here’s a few good resources for planning healthy meals and healthy eating in general

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February 3, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Why is type 2 diabetes an increasing problem?

Why is type 2 diabetes an increasing problem?.

From the 14th January 2014 ScienceDaily article

Contrary to a common belief, researchers have shown that genetic regions associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes were unlikely to have been beneficial to people at stages through human evolution.

Type 2 diabetes is responsible for more than three million deaths each year and this number is increasing steadily. The harmful genetic variants associated with this common disease have not yet been eliminated by natural selection.

To try to explain why this is, geneticists have previously hypothesized that during times of ‘feast or famine’ throughout human evolution, people who had advantageous or ‘thrifty’ genes processed food more efficiently. But in the modern developed world with too much food, these same people would be more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

“This thrifty gene theory is an attractive hypothesis to explain why natural selection hasn’t protected us against these harmful variants,” says Dr. Yali Xue, lead author of the study from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. “But we find little or no evidence to corroborate this theory.”

 

Read the entire article here

 

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January 22, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Physicians discuss willingness to write prescriptions for health apps

From the 18th January 2014 at Scope (published by Stanford Medicine)

By   

health_appsThe mobile health market is rapidly growing, and it’s estimated that within five years 50 percent of mobile device users will have downloaded mobile health apps. While past surveys haveshown that patients are eager for doctors to recommend such apps, it remains unclear if physicians feel comfortable prescribing them.

Over on MedPage Today, writer Kristina Fiore explores the potential of physicians prescribing health apps, such as BlueStar, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and helps patients monitor diabetes. Several of the clinicians contacted for the story said they are open to the idea, assuming that patients are comfortable using the app and that data shows the app to be effective. From the article:

Sue Kirkman, MD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said a prescription app could be helpful, but its usefulness may be limited in that the patients “who want the app and are willing to enter data and respond to prompts may already be the more proactive ones.”

Kirkman added that she hopes potential insurer reimbursement for apps opens the door wider to support of reimbursement for self-management tools such as contact with diabetes educators.

“Right now, pretty much only face-to-face visits are covered, not the ongoing contacts by phone, fax, email, etc., that are really needed to help someone sustain behavior changes and self-manage their diabetes optimally,” she said.

Previously: Text message reminders shown effective in boosting flu shot rates among pregnant womenTexts may help people with diabetes manage care, Why physicians should consider patients’ privacy before recommending health, fitness apps and Designing a mobile app to help patients and doctors identify personalized food triggers
Photo by Intel Free Press

Will Docs Write Rx for Apps?[Medpage Today]

Doctors can now write scripts for the first prescription-only app — but the question remains whether they’ll pick up a prescription pad to write for mobile technology.

The app, BlueStar, is a tracker for patients with diabetes. It analyzes logged blood glucose data and offers advice based on trends it detects — such as telling patients to adjust their diets based on sugar levels after meals. Clinicians also receive a report on their patients’ progress.

Parent company WellDoc just won $20 million in venture financing for the app, and the company has a track record of success with online disease management tools and applications. WellDoc’s argument is that better blood sugar control will lead to better patients outcomes, and, thus, less spending on healthcare in the long run.
   Read entire article here

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January 21, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] How Medicaid affects adult health — Study: Health insurance helps lower-income Americans avoid depression, diabetes, major financial shocks | Full Text Reports…

How Medicaid affects adult health — Study: Health insurance helps lower-income Americans avoid depression, diabetes, major financial shocks | Full Text Reports….

 

From the 10 January 2014 Full Text Report

 

January 10, 2014

How Medicaid affects adult health — Study: Health insurance helps lower-income Americans avoid depression, diabetes, major financial shocks
Source: New England Journal of Medicine (via MIT)

Enrollment in Medicaid helps lower-income Americans overcome depression, get proper treatment for diabetes, and avoid catastrophic medical bills, but does not appear to reduce the prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, according to a new study with a unique approach to analyzing one of America’s major health-insurance programs.

The study, a randomized evaluation comparing health outcomes among more than 12,000 people in Oregon, employs the same research approach as a clinical trial, but applies it in a way that provides a window into the health outcomes of poor Americans who have been given the opportunity to get health insurance.

“What we found was that Medicaid significantly increased the probability of being diagnosed with diabetes, and being on diabetes medication,” says Amy Finkelstein, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and, along with Katherine Baicker of Harvard University’s School of Public Health, the principal investigator for the study. “We find decreases in rates of depression, and we continue to find reduced financial hardship. However, we were unable to detect a decline in the incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.”

 

 

 

 

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January 20, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

Smoking changes our genes

Smoking changes our genes.

From the 17 December 2013 ScienceDaily article

The fact that smoking means a considerable health risk is nowadays commonly accepted. New research findings from Uppsala University and Uppsala Clinical Research Center show that smoking alters several genes that can be associated with health problems for smokers, such as increased risk for cancer and diabetes.

We inherit our genes from our parents at birth. Later in life the genetic material can be changed by epigenetic modifications, i.e. chemical alterations of the DNA the affect the activity of the genes. Such alterations are normally caused by aging but can also result from environmental factors and lifestyle.

In a study recently published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics the researchers have examined how the genes are changed in smokers and users of non-smoke tobacco. They could identify a large number of genes that were altered in smokers but found no such effect of non-smoke tobacco.

t has been previously known that smokers have an increased risk of developing diabetes and many types of cancer, and have a reduced immune defence and lower sperm quality. The results from the study also showed that genes that increase the risk for cancer and diabetes, or are important for the immune response or sperm quality, are affected by smoking.

…..

Read the entire article here

 

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January 6, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Magazine article] 1 In 10 People in the World Will Have Diabetes By 2035

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http://www.idf.org/diabetesatlas/data-visualisations

From the 14 November 2013 Time article By  @charlottealter

The International Diabetes Federation released a report Thursday that said that 10% of the global population will have diabetes by 2035.

The report, which was released on International Diabetes Day, said that 382 million people will have diabetes by the end of this year, and that 592 million will be diabetic by 2035, CBS news reports. Many of those millions will be living in developing countries.

The IDF report also estimates that the percentage of diabetic Americans will jump from 8% to 11% by 2035. One person dies from diabetes every six seconds, which amounts to 1.5 million annual deaths.

IDF points out that the number of people with diabetes, especially the Type 2 form, has increased in every country. The number of total diabetes cases have increased 4.4 percent over the last two years, now affecting more than 5 percent of the global population.

“We haven’t seen any kind of stabilizing, any kind of reversal,” Leonor Guariguata, an epidemiologist and project coordinator for IDF’s Diabetes Atlas, said to Businessweek. “Diabetes continues to be a very big problem and is increasing even beyond previous projections.”

According to the report, despite better treatments and improving education strategies, the battle to protect people from diabetes and its complications “is being lost.”

Dr. Juliana Chan, a professor of medicine and therapeutics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the BBC that in China, she feels the rising rates of diabetes are due to different genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors not helped by the fact that the country is becoming modernized rapidly.

China had the highest total number of citizens with the disease, with an estimated 98.4 million to be diagnosed by the end of 2013.

“It is typically an ageing disease, but the data shows that the young and middle-aged are most vulnerable. It is prevalent in obese people but emerging data suggests that for lean people with diabetes the outcome can be worse,” she explained.

Read more: 10% of World Population Will Have Diabetes By 2035 | TIME.com http://healthland.time.com/2013/11/14/1-in-10-people-in-the-world-will-have-diabetes-by-2035/#ixzz2ko5oErTU

November 16, 2013 Posted by | Public Health | , | 2 Comments

Why Some Fats Are Worse Than Others

 

diagram of a human digestive system

diagram of a human digestive system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 29 August 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

All dietary fats are not created equal. Some types of fats have been linked to ailments like heart disease and diabetes, while others, like those often found in plants and fish, have well documented health benefits.

So why do our bodies respond so destructively to some fats but not others?

A new hypothesis described in latest issue of The Quarterly Review of Biologysuggests the answer may lie in how different fats interact with the microbes in our guts. According to researchers from the University of New Mexico and Northwestern University, some fats may encourage the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive system. Our bodies have evolved to recognize those fats and launch an immune response to preempt the impeding changes in harmful bacteria. The result is low-levelinflammation that, over the long term, causes chronic disease.

“Although the inflammatory effects of [fats] are well documented, it is less well appreciated that they also influence bacterial survival and proliferation in the gastrointestinal tract,” write the researchers, led by Joe Alcock, of the University of New Mexico Department of Emergency Medicine and VA Medical Center.

Some fats – mostly unsaturated fats – actually have strong antimicrobial properties. They react chemically with bacterial cell membranes, weakening them. “If you expose unsaturated fats on bacteria, the bacteria have a tendency to lyse. The combination of long chain unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, and innate host defenses like gastric acid and antimicrobial peptides, is particularly lethal to pathogenic bacteria,” Alcock said. Saturated fats on the other hand generally lack those antimicrobial properties, and in fact can provide a carbon source that bacteria need to grow and flourish….

 

 

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Coffee- some cons

While I am a coffee lover, presently the indulgence is only 2 cups a day.

Came across 2 items recently that have reinforced why I limit my intake.
In my humble opinion, it really is scientifically challenging to say if coffee is good or bad  because there are so many chemicals in coffee, each with associated side effects…

The items…

10 Reasons to Quit Your Coffee! (by Mark Hyman, MD at HuffPost Healthy Living, 7/1/12)
 
(via Amy Croan, MPH who I follow on Twitter. She authors the blog To Your Health..).

Excerpts

While there are many controversies about coffee’s role in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease to breast cancer, I’m mostly interested in the conversation relating to its effect on blood sugar metabolism. If you have read my latest book, The Blood Sugar Solution, then you already know how insulin resistance and inflammation are at the core of modern-day chronic diseases….

Here are 10 reasons why:

    1. The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation, and this makes you feel lousy.
    2. Habituation to caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond appropriately to blood sugar. High blood sugar levels lead to arterial deterioration and increased risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease.
    3. Unfiltered coffee has the highest amount of beneficial antioxidants yet also leaks the most diterpenes into your system. These diterpenes have been linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels.
    4. The helpful chlorogenic acids that may delay glucose absorption in the intestine have also been shown to increase homocysteine levels — an indicator for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which tends to be elevated in diabesity.
    5. The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora).
    6. Addiction is often an issue with coffee drinkers and makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural source of energy. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s…
    7. Associative addictions trend with coffee — who doesn’t immediately think of warm, frothy sweet cream and sugar when they picture coffee? Surely the business of coffee has inspired a culture addicted to the sugary, fatty tastes of what has become more of a meal than a drink! That morning latte is the epitome of food lacking nutrition density yet packing energy!
    8. 5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle, as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression. We all know someone who tends to be tired, wired and over-caffeinated!
    9. Elevated urinary excretion of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium have been noted in coffee drinkers. An imbalance in your electrolyte status can lead to serious systemic complications.Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver, making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver.
    10.  Another issue to be aware of with coffee intake is how certain medications such as levothyroxine (thyroid) as well as tricyclic antidepressants are poorly absorbed, making symptoms curiously worse for patients.

As long as news keeps cranking coffee benefit stories, we’ll keep commenting on them (HealthNewsReview.org*** 7/2/2012)

Excerpts

CAFFEINE LINKED TO LOWER SKIN CANCER RISK – ABC NEWS

CAFFEINE IN COFFEE MAY HELP LOWER RISK OF SKIN CANCER – Fox News

Addendum on July 4: 

Good news, java junkies: Researchers have found the more coffee you drink, the more you may be protecting yourself against skin cancer. – CNN.com

None of these stories mentioned anything about:

  • this was an observational study
  • it showed a statistical association – not cause-and-effect

And the Fox and CNN stories didn’t have any independent perspective – only the researcher/author touting the study’s importance.

But the sun shines on HealthDay today because it included this simple and effective reminder:

“While the study uncovered an association between greater caffeine consumption and reduced risk of basal cell cancer, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.”

As always, we remind journalists and news consumers of our primer: Does The Language Fit The Evidence? – Association Versus Causation

Here are just some of our past blog posts about news coverage of supposed health benefits of coffee:

**HealthNewsReview.org provides independent reviews of health stories which are based on high journalism standards of accuracy, completeness and balance. (See their toolkit for tips on how to understand studies, evaluate claims, analyze news coverage, and more)

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto: Taso de kafo. Français : Photo d’une tasse de caffé Español: Taza de café (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

July 10, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dentists Could Screen 20 Million Americans For Chronic Physical Illnesses

NYU Study Concludes That Dentists Could Screen 20 Million Americans for Chronic Physical Illnesses

 

From a December 2011 press release of New York University

An Opportunity to Identify Diabetes, Hypertension, and Other Chronic Diseases

Nearly 20 million Americans annually visit a dentist but not a general healthcare provider, according to an NYU study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study, conducted by a nursing-dental research team at NYU, is the first of its kind to determine the proportion of Americans who are seen annually by a dentist but not by a general healthcare provider.

This finding suggests dentists can play a crucial role as health care practitioners in the front-line defense of identifying systemic disease which would otherwise go undetected in a significant portion of the population, say the researchers.

“For these and other individuals, dental professionals are in a key position to assess and detect oral signs and symptoms of systemic health disorders that may otherwise go unnoticed, and to refer patients for follow-up care,” said Dr. Shiela Strauss, an associate professor of nursing at the NYU College of Nursing and co-director of the statistics and data management core for NYU’s Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry.

During the course of a routine dental examination, dentists and dental hygienists, as trained healthcare providers, can take a patient’s health history, check blood pressure, and use direct clinical observation and X-rays to detect risk for systemic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. ……

Read the entire news article

December 27, 2011 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soda’s Evil Twin – The Dangers of Fruit Drinks (Infographic) [With Added Item on Environmental Degradation by Soda Manufacturer Processes]

From Jen Rs Web page  (Twitter: jenicarhee)


Related articles

  • [Environmenal effects of soda drink manufacturing overseas]

From the January 2012 newsletter item by the Mt. St. Agnes Theological Center for Women
Green Notes

Bad news for soft drink lovers…You might believe that your daily cola fix only poses a threat to your diet but, depending on your brand of choice, you could be terribly wrong.  As major soft drink manufactures move their bottling plants over seas and into the developing world, many are engaging in irresponsible behaviors that harm the local environment and communities dependent on it.

Coca-Cola stands out as the worst offender, particularly in India.  In the last decade, tens of thousands of farmers and their families have lost their livelihoods as Coca-Cola’s activities have dried out their wells and poisoned any alternate local water sources.  The company has peddled potentially toxic product containing elevated levels of dangerous pesticides in drinks sold in India. The dangerous pesticides include DDT, Lindane, and Malathion.  PepsiCo’s activities in India have been only marginally better.  India’s parliament has banned Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products from all of its cafeterias and, as of 2007, ten thousand of its schools and colleges have followed suit.

In support of India’s efforts to force responsible practices from the Coca-Cola and PepsiCo corporations, our Center will no longer purchase or serve soft drinks from these companies.  We hope you will do the same.  For more information regarding the on-going protest movement against Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, check outwww.cokejustice.org  andwww.indiaresource.org/news/2010/1044.html, or refer to Paul Hawken’s book, Blessed Unrest, which our Center will be discussing this April.

November 16, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition, Public Health, statistics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Obesity Pandemic – Lancet articles & related articles (including press coverage)

From the 26 August edition of The Lancet

This four-part Series critically examines what we know about the global obesity pandemic: its drivers, its economic and health burden, the physiology behind weight control and maintenance, and what science tells us about the kind of actions that are needed to change our obesogenic environment and reverse the current tsunami of risk factors for chronic diseases in future generations. …

Series Papers**
The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments

Boyd A Swinburn, Gary Sacks, Kevin D Hall, Klim McPherson, Diane T Finegood, Marjory L Moodie, Steven L Gortmaker

Summary | Full Text | PDF

Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK

Y Claire Wang, Klim McPherson, Tim Marsh, Steven L Gortmaker, Martin Brown

Summary | Full Text | PDF

Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight

Kevin D Hall, Gary Sacks, Dhruva Chandramohan, Carson C Chow, Y Claire Wang, Steven L Gortmaker, Boyd A Swinburn

Summary | Full Text | PDF

Changing the future of obesity: science, policy, and action

Steven L Gortmaker, Boyd A Swinburn, David Levy, Rob Carter, Patricia L Mabry, Diane T Finegood, Terry Huang, Tim Marsh, Marjory L Moodie
Summary | Full Text | PDF
Media Coverage
  **Do not have a subscription to The Lancet? Click here for suggestions on how to get these articles for free or at low cost.

 

August 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Cell Phones Can Help Under-Developed Countries Manage Diabetes And Other Diseases

From a 17 May 2011 Medical News Today article

A new study by the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System and University of Michigan suggests that mobile phones could help low-income patients across the globe manage diabetes and other chronic diseases. ..

…For this study, researchers took advantage of the broad penetration of cell phones in Latin America and paired them with low-cost internet-based phone calls. The service used a cloud computing approach so that the program can be provided from a central location to low income countries around the globe that lack a strong technological infrastructure.

To test the service, the researchers enrolled patients with diabetes from a clinic in a semi-rural area of Honduras. Patients received weekly, automated, interactive phone calls and overwhelmingly reported that the program helped them to improve their diabetes management and general health.

Over the six-week study, researchers saw a clinically important improvement in patients’ hemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood sugar control. The results are forthcoming in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. ….

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Pediatrics Professor Calls Sugar Toxic in a Heavily Viewed 2009 YouTube Lecture

Excerpts from a 13 April 2011 New York Times article

On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube the following July. Since then, it has been viewed well over 800,000 times, gaining new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, fairly remarkable numbers for a 90-minute discussion of the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology….

..by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”….

…The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose….

..If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them….

This  long article goes on to explain how it is believed that an excessive sugar intake leads to fatty livers and accompanying metabolic syndrome. The body, in its inability to use naturally produced insulin, sets the stage for diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Proteomics Research Heading Towards Personalized Treatments For Cancer, Diabetes And Inflammatory Diseases

Proteomics Research Heading Towards Personalized Treatments For Cancer, Diabetes And Inflammatory Diseases

From the March 27, 2011 Medical News Today Item

NeoProteomics Inc., a biomarker development and software company, has secured an exclusive option agreement with Case Western Reserve University. The deal has potential to enhance various forms of treatment of cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases. Proteomics is the scientific next step in vital research of protein structures of biological systems. NeoProteomics, founded in 2006 in Cleveland near Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine, focuses on biomarker identification and validation and seeks to spearhead the development of unique and improved analysis tools…..

 

March 29, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New research suggests that obesity and diabetes are a downside of human evolution

New research suggests that obesity and diabetes are a downside of human evolution

New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that a gene called CMAH has been lost during the course of recent evolution, and may lead to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in humans

From the February 25 2011 Eureka news alert

As if the recent prediction that half of all Americans will have diabetes or pre-diabetes by the year 2020 isn’t alarming enough, a new genetic discovery published online in the FASEB Journal. *** provides a disturbing explanation as to why: we took an evolutionary “wrong turn.” In the research report, scientists show that human evolution leading to the loss of function in a gene called “CMAH” may make humans more prone to obesity and diabetes than other mammals.

“Diabetes is estimated to affect over 25 million individuals in the U.S., and 285 million people worldwide,” said Jane J. Kim, M.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, CA. “Our study for the first time links human-specific sialic acid changes to insulin and glucose metabolism and therefore opens up a new perspective in understanding the causes of diabetes.”

In this study, which is the first to examine the effect of a human-specific CMAH genetic mutation in obesity-related metabolism and diabetes, Kim and colleagues show that the loss of CMAH’s function contributes to the failure of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in overweight humans, which is known to be a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. This gene encodes for an enzyme present in all mammalian species except for humans and adds a single oxygen atom to sialic acids, which are sugars that coat the cell surface.

To make their discovery, the researchers used two groups of mice. The first group had the same mutant CMAH gene found in humans. These mice demonstrated that the CMAH enzyme was inactive and could not produce a sialic acid type called NeuSGc at the cell surface. The second group had a normal CMAH gene. When exposed to a high fat diet, both sets of mice developed insulin resistance as a result of their obesity. Pancreatic beta cell failure, however, occurred only in the CMAH mutant mice that lacked NeuSGc, resulting in a decreased insulin production, which then further impaired blood glucose level control. This discovery may enhance scientific understanding of why humans may be particularly prone to develop type 2 diabetes. Results may also suggest that conventional animal models may not accurately mirror the human situation.

“The diabetes discovery is an important advance in its own right. It tells us a lot about what goes wrong in diabetes, and where to aim with new treatments,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, “but its implications for human evolution are even greater. If this enzyme is unique to humans, it must also have given us a survival advantage over earlier species. Now the challenge is to find the function of CMAH in defending us against microbes or environmental stress or both. This evolutionary science explains how we can win some and lose some, to keep our species ahead of the extinction curve.”

**For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost click here

Related articles and Web sites

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CDC Releases Estimates of Rates of Leisure-Time Physical Inactivity for all U.S. Counties

CDC Releases Estimates of Rates of Leisure-Time Physical Inactivity for
all U.S. Counties

County-Level Map for Leisure-Time Physical Inactivity, 2008

A map of the United States shows county-level estimates of leisure-time physical inactivity in quartiles.  County-level estimates of age-adjusted rates of leisure-time physical inactivity ranged from 10.1% to 43.0%.  Counties in the highest quartiles (29.2% or greater) were located primarily in Appalachia and the South.  Counties in the lowest quartiles (23.2% or lower) were located primarily in Western states and some Northeastern states.

Estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that Americans who live in parts of Appalachia and the South are the least likely to be physically active in their leisure time, and residents who are most likely to be active in their free time are from the West
Coast, Colorado, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast.

The 2004-2008 estimates, posted online at http://cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/inactivity.htm provide county-level estimates for leisure-time physical inactivity for all U.S.

 

February 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Quality varies in social networking websites for diabetics

Quality varies in social networking websites for diabetics
Researchers make recommendations for improving sites, provide safety tips for users

From the February 8, 2011 Eureka news alert

Boston, Mass. – Nearly one-half of U.S. adults who use the Internet participate in social networks. While these increasingly include health-focused networks, not much is known about their quality and safety. In one of the first formal studies of social networking websites targeting patients, researchers in the Children’s Hospital Boston Informatics Program performed an in-depth evaluation of ten diabetes websites.

Their audit found large variations in quality and safety across sites, with room for improvement across the board. As reported online January 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association***, only 50 percent of the sites presented content consistent with diabetes science and clinical practice. Even fewer offered both scientific accuracy and patient protections such as safeguarding of personal health information, effective internal and external review processes and appropriate advertising.

For instance, seven of the ten sites did not allow members to restrict the visibility of their profiles. Five carried advertisements that were not labeled as such. And three sites went as far as to advertise unfounded “cures.”

“We saw that people are sharing incredible amounts of personal health information on these sites, including highly identifiable information,” says Elissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, lead author on the study and an assistant professor in the laboratory of Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH. “They are eager to accelerate their understanding of the disease, obtain support, find treatments and see if their experience is common or different.”

“There is on the one hand an enormous focus in the U.S. on health information privacy,” Mandl adds. “But privacy in a social network is somewhat of an oxymoron. On the whole, these networks tend to be about exposing your information online.”

The team evaluated diabetes websites that appeared prominently in Google searches and allowed members to create personal profiles and interact with each other. They looked at four key factors:

  1. agreement of content with diabetes science and clinical practice standards,
  2. practices for auditing content and supporting transparency,
  3. accessibility and readability of privacy policies, and
  4. the degree of control members had over the sharing of personal data.

The average number of members per website was 6,707. Activity ranged widely among the sites, from over 100 new posts per day to less than 5 new posts per day.

The majority of sites studied did not include a “disclaimer” encouraging patients to discuss their care regimen with a healthcare provider. Many sites also missed opportunities to communicate essential diabetes information, such as the definition of “A1c”—a biomarker commonly used by diabetics to access blood glucose levels.

In addition to recommending improvements in these areas, the authors saw a need for increased moderation, for the credentials of moderators to be more visible and for periodic external review. Further, potential conflicts of interest—such as ties to the pharmaceutical industry—needed to be more clearly disclosed, and privacy policies easier to understand.

Diabetes is only one illness in the rapidly growing list for which there are online social networks with thousands of users. The researchers chose to study diabetes-related networks because they were among the earliest to emerge and remain among the most active. They and colleagues in the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program are further studying how these sites are used—how people choose to interact with them and how specifically they share their medical information. Last year, Mandl and Weitzman developed an application for the social networking website TuDiabetes that allows users to submit their A1c levels to be displayed in a worldwide map, as part of an effort to encourage diabetes management and inform public health efforts and research.

The two believe that the emergence of online health communities and their large number of participants reveal unmet needs for information and support of patients and families. “Social networking activity is clearly replacing or adding value that is missing in the standard healthcare system,” Mandl says.

“We sought to jump start a conversation about how to balance patients’ safety with their autonomy,” Weitzman says, “as we’re in an era where terrific levels of healthcare communication are happening outside of the usual channels.”

While the names of the 9 sites were not mentioned,  the tables nicely summarized the extensive research done in the study.

The variables in the tables are valuable guide in determining if a social networking site provides good information, respects privacy, refers to users to health care professionals, is influenced by advertising, and more.

Below are the abbreviated tables

Table 1 Alignment of centralized content with diabetes science and clinical practice recommendations

Medical Alignment

1.Recommendation or ‘disclaimer’ to discuss regimen with healthcare provider

Clear central definitions, consistent with care standards
HbA1c
Prediabetes

2.Clear central information on clinical-practice recommendations

Routine checkups

Annual eye exams

3. Biannual HbA1c

4. Yearly flu vaccination

5. Annual lipid profile

6. Smoking cessation

Table 2 Safety practices for auditing content and supporting transparency and moderation of content

Quality of Information

External checks on editorial content

Evidence of outside audit of site content

Link to diabetes association on home page

Internal checks on user-generated content

Some form of forum moderation present

No of moderators available clearly marked

Credentials of moderators clearly stated

Evidence of professionally accredited moderators

Free of member-posted misinformation about a ‘cure’

Advertising content

Free of pharmaceutical advertising on home page

Clear distinction between editorial and advertising content

Free of deceptive advertising of ‘cure’ on site

*** For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost click here.

For general guides to evaluating Web sites for health/medical information, try these

February 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ancient body clock keeps all life on time: studies

Ancient body clock keeps all life on time: studies

24 hour rhythms may be protein, not be DNA based

From the January 26, 2011 Health Day news item by Kay Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have identified the mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life — a finding they say should shed light on some shift work-related problems like diabetes, depression and cancer.

Researchers from Britain’s Cambridge and Edinburgh universities, whose work was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday**, said their findings provide important insight into health-related problems linked to people such as nurses, pilots and other shift workers, whose body clocks are disrupted.

The studies also suggest that the 24-hour circadian clock found in human cells is the same as that found in algae, and dates back millions of years to early life on earth, they said.

In the first study, Cambridge scientists found for the first time that red blood cells have a 24-hour rhythm.

This is significant, they explained, because circadian rhythms have always been assumed to be linked to DNA and gene activity — but, unlike most other cells in the body, red blood cells do not have DNA.

“The implications of this for health are manifold. We already know that disrupted clocks…are associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, mental health problems and even cancer,” said Akhilesh Reddy, who led the study. “By furthering our knowledge of how the 24-hour clock in cells works, we hope that the links…will be made clearer.”

Many scientific studies have found links between working irregular hours and a greater likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Sleep disruption is also associated with mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder.

A team of scientists said last year they had used experimental drugs being developed by Pfizer to reset body clocks of mice in a lab — opening up the possibility that drugs might in future be developed to restore rhythms to people whose body clocks have been messed up.

In these new studies, Reddy’s team incubated purified red blood cells from healthy volunteers in the dark and at body temperature and sampled them regularly over several days.

They then examined the levels of certain biochemical markers — proteins called peroxiredoxins that are found in virtually all known organisms and are produced in high levels in blood. The results showed that there was a modification in these proteins in a pattern that went back and forth over 24 hours.

A further study found a similar 24-hour cycle in marine algae — suggesting that internal body clocks have always been important, even for ancient forms of life.

The researchers found those rhythms by sampling the peroxiredoxins in algae at regular intervals over several days. When the algae were kept in darkness, their DNA was no longer active, but the algae kept their circadian clocks ticking even without active genes.

Scientists had previously thought the circadian clock was driven by gene activity, but both the algae and the red blood cells kept time without it.

Andrew Millar of Edinburgh University, who led the second study, said it showed that body clocks are ancient mechanisms that have been around through a billion years of evolution.

“They must be far more important and sophisticated than we previously realized,” he said. He added that more research was now needed to determine how and why these clocks developed in people, and what role they play in controlling our bodies.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

** For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation Oncology Patient Web Site earns Web Health Award

From the December 15, 2010 Eureka news alert

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) has received a 2010 Web Health Award for its patient-geared website, www.rtanswers.org.

The Web Health Awards is a national competition that recognizes high-quality electronic health information. Over 500 entries were submitted for the 2010 competition from a variety of health care professionals nationwide. The winners were selected by a panel of national electronic health information experts. [A complete listing of the winners may be found here ]

This year, ASTRO received a bronze award for RT Answers, a site designed specifically for cancer patients and their families, friends and caregivers. RT Answers began in 2004 as a way to explain to cancer patients and their families and friends how radiation therapy is used to treat cancer safely and effectively. Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be frightening and confusing, so physicians and other members of the radiation therapy treatment team created RT Answers as a one-stop site where patients can receive radiation therapy information.

Here are some highlights from the RT Answers Web site

Among other winners in the medical/health care fields for Summer 2010

(Flahiff’s note: I was disappointed in a few awardee sites [not listed below] some had pages with no content, some did not have an about page; keep in mind there is an entry fee of $58.00 for submissions)

  • The Recovery Month (US Health and Human Services)”aims to promote the societal benefits of alcohol and drug use disorder treatment, laud the contributions of treatment providers, and promote the message that recovery from alcohol and drug disorders in all its forms is possible.”
    Includes Recovery Resources for the public (they are also on Facebook, YouTube,and Twitter)
  • Home Safety Council has information on how to maintain a safe home in formats as fact sheets, guides, quizzes, videos, and interactive media
  • Iowa Health System has links to health information (as an online health library and health videos) and a newsroom (with health care reform summaries)
  • National Diabetes Education Program includes publications, resources, and fact sheets. One may do a tailored search with drop down menus (age, ethnicity, language, and diabetes status)

 

 

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Summaries for Patients” and other plain language summaries help patients and others understand medical studies and guidelines

Heard or read about research on a medical topic but not sure if the news is reliable? Looking for trusted information on a treatment or drug carefully reviewed by experts? Do scientific articles seem to contain good information, but they are hard to understand?

Not sure where to go next?  You are not alone.

These plain language summaries are great places to start for medical and health information that has been rewritten for those of us who are not scientists or health care professionals. Much of the information is free, and often there are great links to reliable Web pages for additional information.

                    These summaries will help you
    • Discover how researchers did the published study and what they found, including
      • What the problem was and why it is studied
      • Who was studied and why the study was done
      • What the scientists found and what the limits of the study were
    • Find overviews about clinical guidelines -official recommendations for doctors in treating patients
To locate a specific summary

These summaries are provided to help patients or their caregivers more fully understand  research results. They also provide links  to the full text of  many research articles.
Some full text articles are free. Others require a reduce-fee payment (much less than ordering from the publisher!).
(Always check to see if you can get the article for free or at even lower cost from your area public, medical, or academic library – most libraries will try to help anyone who contacts them directly)

Cochrane Summariesbeta

Independent high-quality evidence for health care decision making

  • Cochrane Collaboration provides well researched reviews of the strongest evidence available about healthcare interventions (as drugs, medical tests,  and medical procedures).  Every available treatment/test has not yet been reviewed. However each review is conducted in depth by experts.            

              To find plain language  and audio summaries of Cochrane Reviews

    • Go to the Cochrane Reviews Home page and scroll down to Browse Free Summaries
    • Click on a topic OR scroll down and click on All Summaries
    • The All Summaries page will allow you to
      • Search by entering words and short phrases (as headache, multiple sclerosis drugs, asthma acupuncture
      • Browse by Health Topics (left column)
      • Include only these in the search results
        • Podcasts – audio summaries
        • PEARLS – guidance and advice for real time decisions

Related Blog Items 


Cannot find a plain language summary with the above resources?

Consider asking a reference librarian for help at your local public, academic, or hospital library. Many academic and hospital libraries provide at least limited reference service to the public.
Call or email them for information about their services.

You may also contact me at jmflahiff@msncom.  I will do my best to reply within 48 hours.


November 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Number of Americans with Diabetes Projected to Double or Triple by 2050

Older, more diverse population and longer lifespans contribute to increase

 

As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Excerpts from the press release

As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One in 10 U.S. adults has diabetes now. The prevalence is expected to rise sharply over the next 40 years due to an aging population more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, increases in minority groupsthat are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, and people with diabetes living longer, according to CDC projections published in the journal Population Health Metrics. Because the study factored in aging, minority populations and lifespan, the projections are higher than previous estimates.

The report predicts that the number of new diabetes cases each year will increase from 8 per 1,000 people in 2008, to 15 per 1,000 in 2050.

The report estimates that the number of Americans with diabetes will range from 1 in 3 to 1 in 5 by 2050. That range reflects differing assumptions about how many people will develop diabetes, and how long they will live after developing the disease.

“These are alarming numbers that show how critical it is to change the course of type 2 diabetes,” saidAnn Albright, PhD, RD, director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “Successful programs to improve lifestyle choices on healthy eating and physical activity must be made more widely available, because the stakes are too high and the personal toll too devastating to fail.”

Proper diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of diabetes and help to control the condition in people with diabetes. Effective prevention programs directed at groups at high risk of type 2 diabetes can considerably reduce future increases in diabetes prevalence, but will not eliminate them, the report says…..

…..For information about diabetes visit www.cdc.gov/diabetes or the National Diabetes Education Program at www.yourdiabetesinfo.org. For a full copy of the report, visithttp://www.pophealthmetrics.com/content/8/1/29.

October 30, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

Mediterranean Diet May Trim Diabetes Risk

From a Reuters Health Information press release (October 14, 2010)

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Older adults who stick with a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in plant-based fats may help lower their risk of type 2 diabetes — even without counting calories or shedding weight, new research hints.

In a study of 418 older Spanish adults, researchers found that those instructed to follow a Mediterranean diet were less likely to develop diabetes over four years than those instructed to follow a low-fat diet — about 10 percent developed the disease, versus 18 percent in the low-fat group. And weight loss did not appear necessary to gain the benefit.

The findings, reported in the journal Diabetes Care, may sound too good to be true.

But they back up previous work by the same researchers showing that the Mediterranean diet, even without weight loss, appeared to curb the risk of metabolic syndrome — a collection of risk factors for diabetes that includes abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar and triglycerides.

However, even if the eating pattern brings benefits in the absence of weight loss, that does not negate the importance of regular exercise or calorie-consciousness, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association told Reuters Health.

For further information on diabetes, consider starting with the MedlinePlus topic Diabetes

For further information on the Mediterranean diet, consider starting with the Mayo Clinic Web page Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option and the American Heart Association Web page Mediterranean diet.

Remember, consult with your (state licensed) health care practitioners if you have any health concerns, including diet changes.

 

October 18, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

   

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